Malaysia postpones hearing of Vietnamese suspect in Kim murder

By AFP, Reuters   April 13, 2017 | 09:07 am GMT+7
Malaysia postpones hearing of Vietnamese suspect in Kim murder
Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (2nd L) is escorted by Malaysian police for a court appearance in Sepang on Thursday for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam. Photo by AFP/Rasfan

Lead prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said more time was needed to collect documents from several departments.

Two women accused of killing the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader made their second court appearance on Thursday wearing bullet-proof vests, but the hearing into the Kuala Lumpur airport assassination was postponed until May.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, were taken to the Sepang magistrate's court located close to the airport where Kim Jong-Nam was fatally poisoned on February 13. They face the death penalty if convicted of killing Kim Jong-Nam.

Thursday's scheduled hearing for the prosecutors' request that the two women be tried jointly and for the case to be transferred to a higher court was deferred to May 30.

Lead prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said more time was needed to collect documents from several departments.

Police accuse the pair of having wiped the nerve agent VX on Kim's face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The poison is classified as a weapon of mass destruction and banned around the world.

Aishah and Huong have told their respective diplomats that they were unwitting pawns in an assassination that U.S. officials and South Korean intelligence have said was organized by North Korean agents.

Rival South Korea accuses the North of masterminding the death of Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Pyongyang denies the accusation.

Some 100 police officers including masked special forces armed with assault rifles were deployed to secure the small court compound where the women were taken for Thursday's hearing.

Police are still looking for four North Korean men who are suspected accomplices of the women. The four, however, are believed to have returned to Pyongyang.

Three other North Koreans earlier described as "persons of interest", including a diplomat based in Malaysia, have been allowed to return home.

The killing sparked a diplomatic crisis between Malaysia and North Korea which saw both countries banning each other's citizens from leaving and withdrawing their ambassadors.

The travel ban was lifted in late March after a deal was struck involving the return of Kim's body to Pyongyang.